1 Thessalonians 1:8-9 NIV
When God truly turns us around, His Spirit lives in us. When that happens, we begin to see things differently. We will begin to notice things that we didn’t before. Our heart will start to be broken for the things that break His, bringing us more in line with His will. He will change the way that we feel, think, and operate, for the better. It has been thought by several Christian writers that, after Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and God giving the Holy Spirit to us for every day, we can read the Ten Commandments as promises, rather than rules. With a changed heart, when God says ‘you will have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:3 NIV), He is describing what our lives look like with Him, and telling us that we won’t want our idols any more. When we become His, God expects us to live a life that reflects Him, and He equips us to do that by taking care of our hearts. He won’t let us off the hook when it comes to things that matter to Him, but not because He’s standing over our shoulder ready to punish us. We will stay in line with His will because we want to. If we ask God to change our hearts, we will become more like Him, more like we were designed to be. Our hearts will change and we will start to move away from what’s wrong to what’s right naturally. Let Him do the changing, and you will never turn back.
Isa 58-62; Luke 4:1-13; Ps 89:1-14; Prov 2:20
2 Thessalonians 3:11 NKJV
One day Peter looked at John and said to Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus immediately rebuked Peter and said, “What is that to you? Just follow me” (See John 21:21-22). Now, if the apostle Peter could get into trouble for meddling, any of us can. The issue here isn’t about helping others; it’s about knowing when to stay out of the middle and mind your own business. Sometimes we jump in and try to solve problems without being asked. And not only are our efforts fruitless, they’re resented. As you become spiritually mature and get over your need to “fix” everybody, life becomes simpler. Now that you’re not “butting in” where you’re not invited, you’re more available to help where you’re really needed. Not meddling, however, goes beyond avoiding the temptation to police, enlighten, or rescue others. It means not eavesdropping, gossiping, talking behind people’s backs, and needing to figure everybody out. Recognize any of these traits in yourself? If so, deal with the problem before it costs you the respect of others. Do you know why we focus so much on other people’s shortcomings? You’ve guessed it – to keep from having to look closely at ourselves. The only thing you can change about others – is your attitude toward them. Paul writes, “Some…among you…are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort…that they work in quietness” (2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 NKJV). One counselor says: “Being a peacemaker doesn’t mean we get in the middle. We are bearers of peace by staying peaceful ourselves…not harboring turmoil…not causing the extra chaos created when we get in the middle of other people’s affairs and relationships.”
Soul food: Isa 38-41; Luke 2:34-40; Ps 74:1-11; Prov 2:6
Genesis 45:11 NKJV
The dream God gave Joseph was not about him feeling good because he was now the number two guy in Egypt, but about positioning him to feed his family and the world in time of famine. When God gives us a dream, it will bless us – and others. The Bible says, ‘God so loved the world’ (John 3:16). When we let Him, God will use us to help fulfil His will. From Joseph’s family would come Jesus, the Redeemer of the world, but Joseph’s family was being threatened with extinction. So God put a plan in place which involved Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dream and being elevated to the throne so that His plan could be accomplished. Joseph’s story proves that a God-given dream will change our attitude towards others, including those who mistreat us. It will make us more gracious, loving, and forgiving. Remembering how they betrayed him, Joseph’s brothers trembled as they stood before him realising he held their fate in his hands. But he refused to retaliate, or even utter a word about what they had done. He told them: ‘I will provide for you.’ Instead of revenge, he wanted the relationship restored. He looked beyond their actions and saw God at work in all he had been through. ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives’ (Genesis 50:20 NIV). How we treat others, especially when we’re in a position of authority, is really important. We should never abuse any authority that we may have been given. We need to be treating people how God treats them – with love.
Isa 8-11; Luke 1:26-38; Ps 10:1-11; Prov 1:10-16
1 Corinthians 6:20 NKJV
One pastor writes: “I stood on every healing Scripture in the Bible. Finally I got so sick that I had to be rushed to the hospital. There they discovered I had five arteries completely blocked and scheduled me for a bypass surgery. When I came through it, I started questioning, ‘How could this have happened to me? I’m a pastor. I believe that God heals. I’ve prayed for others and watched Him heal them.’ Then I remembered! I’d been warned repeatedly that my cholesterol and sugar levels were too high. I needed to change my diet, but I wouldn’t listen. I was addicted to fried foods and fatty foods. They were so tasty I couldn’t give them up.” Keep reading – your life could depend on it! Jesus said the children of this world are wiser than the children of light (See Luke 16:8). The media and medical establishment are warning us daily to watch what we eat, yet often the church is silent. Tobacco, alcohol, and drugs can kill you, but so can eating the wrong food! Paul writes: “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NKJV). You have an assignment from God, and a responsibility to stay healthy and fulfill it. Your body is the temple in which He dwells, and the instrument He uses. So seek to “glorify God in your body” each day.
Soul food: 1 Cor 12-14; Luke 24:25-35; Ps 68:19-35; Prov 25:17-20
Colossians 3:10 NLT
Lasting change happens gradually on the inside, often before there’s any outward evidence of it. Pastor Jim Penner says: “A friend of mine recently went through hip-replacement surgery…the joint had worn to the point where he walked with a limp and had to use a crutch. Thanks to the skill of a modern-day surgeon he was quickly up and around again. Yet for months after the surgery his limp remained…I ran into him this morning and the limp was gone. Where did it go? It had been there the day before. Had it vanished in the night? ‘You’re walking great,’ I said. ‘What happened?’ His response was priceless. ‘My physical therapist told me I had to retrain my brain.’ His brain had been trained to expect pain so he limped in anticipation. Even when he didn’t feel the pain his brain said, ‘Hang on. It’s coming!’ The Bible says in Christ you become ‘a new creature: old things are passed away…all things are become new’ (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV). But you have to change your thinking by believing, accepting, and acting on it. Christ has already done the restoration ‘surgery.’ Just like my friend was given a new hip, God has given you a new life. The old one is gone along with all the bad things you’ve done, thought, or said. You’re a brand-new creation. But you have to retrain your brain to accept God’s forgiveness and the restorative work Jesus has done in your life.” So: Retrain your brain.
Soul food: Zech 1-4; Luke 22:63-71; Ps 3; Prov 24:23-25